Doctor outlines scenarios, timeline for Ward's 49ers return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Jimmie Ward has been sidelined with a significant hamstring injury that potentially could keep him out of the 49ers' Week 1 opener against the Chicago Bears.
Ward isn’t the only player on the roster who is dealing with a pulled hamstring. Running back Elijah Mitchell, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill are all suffering from the same injury.
Dr. Marc Safran from Stanford Medicine spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area to help explain the timeline for Ward and what it takes to return from a hamstring injury. The orthopedic surgeon also made a prediction on the possibility of Ward being able to return by Week 1.
“It depends on the severity and the demands on Jimmie Ward,” Safran said. “Two to three weeks is on the short side with a Grade 1 or 2 (strain). With a good medical staff like they have with the 49ers, (playing Week 1) is a possibility. A higher grade strain tends to take a little bit longer. Sometimes four to six weeks if it’s a Grade 2 type of strain."
On Monday, coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Ward’s hamstring injury is the worst of the group, leading to the possibility that the veteran safety could miss a significant amount of playing time. Shanahan did not divulge the grade of severity for the hamstring pull that Ward suffered.
The 49ers have just a little over three weeks until they open up the regular season on Sept. 11 in Chicago. The medical staff undoubtedly will be as careful as possible with Ward, making sure he doesn’t try to return to the field too quickly.
Safran explained that once a hamstring injury has occurred, re-injury is very common, especially when a player is required to make explosive movements like Ward.
So what does the recovery process look like?
“First it’s to reduce the inflammation or swelling that occurs and the bleeding when you have this type of injury,” Safran said. “It’s going to heal with scar tissue so stretching so the scar tissue doesn’t shorten the muscle because shorter muscles are more susceptible to getting re-injured.
“Then, they work on the strengthening. Once they have the muscle strength then it’s getting them back to doing more agility activities and then finally, the explosive type of activities.”
While the 49ers will try to remain hopeful about Ward's return, they likely will need to bring in reinforcements in the secondary with the absence of Moseley, cornerback Charvarius Ward (core muscle) and Dontae Johnson (ribs) also missing time.